The Importance of Audience: The Unwatched Play

The Unwatched Play

Frank lounges in his seat
Disappointed with himself
Feeling unfulfilled
“No auditions?” Joe asks
“No. Not even for an ad this week.”
Joe shakes his head, saddened
But he tries to be encouraging
“You’re still an actor.”
“Yes,” Frank agrees
Because that’s true.
He is still an actor
Regardless of his work
“And you’re good.”
Frank shrugs.
“And you’ve memorised all of Hamlet’s lines.”
Frank nods.
“So what does it matter
If no-one ever sees you perform?
You can recite the whole soliloquy
In the privacy of your own lounge.
Give a moving performance.
That should be enough, right?”
“Right,” Frank agrees
With false brightness
“Like, getting a part in a play
Should be enough, if the show is great
Even if no-one attends.”
Joe sighs.
“That’s bollocks, isn’t it?”
He’s right.
Because what’s the point
Of a performance
That goes unseen?
Or a record that never
Gets airplay?


The importance of audience is a theme I have explored before and will continue to revisit. This particular poem was previously published at a personal journal. The crux of the poem is something writers are told frequently: “You should write for yourself, and it doesn’t matter if no-one reads; if that’s true, then the same ought to apply to all the creative arts.

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